FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.3, June 2001

EASTERN AFRICA

BURUNDI* (5 June)

The output of the 2001 A season crops is estimated to be satisfactory. A locally organized FAO/WFP/UNICEF assessment estimated food production at 85 000 tonnes of cereals, 68 000 tonnes of pulses, 483 000 tonnes of roots and tubers and 465 000 tonnes of bananas and plantains, which is 15 percent, 10 percent, 4 percent and 1 percent respectively higher than in the 2000 A season. However, outputs remain below the pre-crisis (1988-1993) average levels, due to insecurity and disruption of agricultural production since 1994. The area planted increased significantly this season reflecting a relatively better security situation in western parts, particularly in the provinces of Bubanza and Cibitoke, and the closure of regroupment camps in Bujumbura Rural Province, which allowed farmers to return to their fields. Another factor which contributed to higher plantings this season was the timely seed distributions by the Government and international agencies, mainly in the Kirundo and Muyinga provinces, the worst affected by drought during the 2000 A season.

Despite a late start of the rainy season, precipitation was abundant and well distributed from October to November, benefiting crop development. However, excessive rains in parts resulted in floods and crop losses and, in general, reduced yields, particularly for beans. Yields of bananas and plantains are expected to increase only from March/April as trees were seriously affected by previous prolonged dry weather. The small 2000 C season in the marshlands, from mid-June to September, was poor due to dry weather in previous months. The food output was estimated 4 percent below the level of the 1999 C season.

The tight food situation has eased with the arrival of the new harvest. Nevertheless, following several consecutive below average harvests, persistent insecurity and population displacements, as well as a recent malaria epidemic, the food and nutrition situation of vulnerable groups remains precarious. In particular, the situation is difficult for 324 000 internally displaced people and for drought affected persons in the provinces of Karuzi, Gitega, Kayanza and Muyinga. A recent nutrition survey in 7 provinces of the country indicated a 10 percent rate of acute global malnutrition. Similarly, a recent report by MSF indicated that the number of malnourished children admitted to its therapeutic feeding centres in Karuzi province had doubled in January 2001. Emergency food aid continues to be necessary for the vulnerable sections of the population.

ERITREA* (18 June)

Planting of the 2001 cereal and pulse crops has just started. The main rains are expected to start from late June. Spring (short) rains from March to May were inadequate in many areas. These short rains are beneficial for early preparation of land and replenishment of pasture. The overall outlook for the current agricultural season remains uncertain with only part of the war displaced farming population being able to return so far and large tracts of land still inaccessible due to landmines. Overall, over one million people are estimated to have been displaced. By mid-May only 16 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) had been resettled.

The food situation remains tight as a result of the war with Ethiopia and last year’s drought. The 2000 cereal crop was sharply reduced due to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of farmers from the agriculturally rich regions of Gash Barka and Debub, which account for more than 70 percent of cereal production.

Two Emergency Operations were jointly approved in April and May 2001 by FAO and WFP for emergency food assistance to about 1.8 million people affected by war and drought, worth a total sum of US$77 million for a period of 10 months (May 2001 to February 2002). The slow response to the Government’s appeal in February 2001 is a major concern with only a small fraction of the appeal of about US$224 million to assist nearly 2 million people for a period of twelve months received so far.

Food aid pledges for 2001 amount to 55 000 tonnes but no deliveries have been made as yet.

ETHIOPIA* (18 June)

Abundant rains in the first two dekads of May benefited the 2001 “belg” crops to be harvested from June. Despite a dry spell in late March and first dekad of April, subsequent good rains have allowed a recovery of the crops. The “belg” production accounts for some 7 to 10 percent of the aggregate cereal production of the country, but it is important in several areas, where it provides the bulk of the annual food supplies. Overall prospects for the harvest are favourable and output is anticipated to recover substantially from last year’s poor “belg” crop. However, an army-worm outbreak recently reported in eastern parts of the country may impact negatively on the outcome of the season.

In the pastoral areas, the current main season rainfall was late by about a month but was widespread and abundant from late April. The impact of the late onset of rains could be significant given the short span of the season and the recent severe droughts. Recent nutritional surveys have shown high levels of global acute malnutrition, indicating continuing food shortages.

As a result of last year’s bumper “meher” cereal and pulse crop, the overall food supply situation in the country is stable. However, the sharp decline in grain prices has severely affected household income in rural areas and may negatively impact on farmers’ production decisions this year. The Government and donors have made some attempts to support local markets through purchases of grain, but with limited funding available the efforts have not been successful so far. Some 6.5 million people, affected by a severe drought in the last two years and the war with neighbouring Eritrea, depend on food assistance.

An Emergency Operations (EMOP) worth about US$90 million was jointly approved in March 2001 by FAO and WFP for relief food assistance to 2.5 million small-scale farmers and drought-affected pastoralists, for a period of 10 months (April 2001 to January 2002). A revised EMOP was also approved jointly in April 2001 for 323 000 internally displaced people due to the war, worth a total of about US$55 million until end of July 2001.

Food aid pledges by the end of May amounted to 585 000 tonnes, of which 215 000 tonnes have been delivered.

KENYA (18 June)

Prospects for the 2001 main season cereal crops are favourable. Abundant precipitation in April and May favoured planting and benefited early planted crops. Production is expected to be normal and higher than last year when a severe drought decimated crops. However, an army-worm outbreak reported in some key grain producing areas may threaten the outcome of this year’s main season. Rains in June will also be crucial for this season’s harvest.

The overall food supply situation has improved considerably following favourable short-rains harvests and improved pasture in several central and western pastoral districts following abundant rains. However, eastern pastoral districts have yet to recover with only scanty rainfall received so far.

The severe drought in 1999/2000 seriously undermined the food security of 4.4 million people, particularly in pastoral areas, and resulted in a massive relief operation. Notable improvement in rates of child malnutrition were reported illustrating the impact of emergency interventions. However, emergency food assistance will still be required, at least until the main season harvest towards the end of the year.

A revised Emergency Operation (EMOP) was jointly approved in January 2001 by FAO and WFP for food assistance to the 4.4 million drought affected people. Under the EMOP, an estimated 548 000 tonnes for the period June 2000 to July 2001 are required, of which about 78 percent has been pledged so far. However, delays in shipments were reported to have caused problems since January 2001.

RWANDA* (5 June)

Preliminary indications of the recently harvested 2001 A season crop point to a food output around or slightly lower than the good level of last year. Despite a delay to the start of the rainy season, precipitation was abundant and well distributed from mid-October to December. Although excessive rains in November resulted in floods and crop losses, mainly in Gisenyi and Butare Prefectures, they generally benefited plantings and yields, particularly of cereals and pulses. Production of roots and tubers and banana and plantains was less satisfactory reflecting shortages of planting material and prolonged dry weather. Also despite the overall positive picture, a poor harvest was gathered in the Bugasera region of Kigali Rural Province, due to seed shortages following successive reduced crops. A locally-organized Government/FAO/WFP/EU Mission has assessed this season's food production but its findings are not yet available.

The tight food supply situation has eased with the new harvest. Prices of maize, beans and Irish potatoes have decreased from their levels of a year ago. However, despite the overall improvement in the food situation, emergency food assistance is anticipated to be needed until the next harvest for people in the Bugesera region, particularly in Kanzenze and Gashora districts. WFP plans to distribute 13 000 tonnes of emergency food assistance for three months to 267 000 drought-affected people in southeast Rwanda. While stringent controls have contained the outbreak of food-and-mouth disease in Umutara, marketing restrictions are causing economic difficulties for pastoralist households.

SOMALIA* (18 June)

Below-normal rains during May in the main growing areas in the south have reduced soil moisture for recently planted maize and sorghum crops of the 2001 main “gu” season. More rains are needed to avoid a reduction in yields. Recent reports indicate that in the major cereal producing regions of Bay and Bakool, crops were wilting and more damage was caused by pests, mainly armyworms. Despite the good harvests in the last two cropping seasons, severe food difficulties may emerge reflecting slow household recovery from the earlier succession of droughts and long-term effects of years of insecurity. Moreover, further injections of new currency into the market with the attendant depreciation of the Somali Shilling have caused a sharp increase in prices of food items eroding the purchasing power of large sections of the population.

Elsewhere, in north-western Somalia (Somaliland) and north-eastern Somalia (Puntland), pasture and livestock conditions have improved with recent rains. However, the ban of livestock imports from eastern Africa by countries along the Arabian Peninsula due to a Rift Valley fever has caused substantial loss of income and has affected the livelihoods of a large number of pastoral households. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently lifted the livestock ban which strengthened the Somali Shilling. However, the UAE accounts for only 2 percent of the total Somali livestock exports to countries along the Arabian Peninsula and the food security impact of lifting the ban is expected to be limited.

A UN inter-agency appeal was launched in March 2001 for US $130 million, to support livelihoods and assist the country’s recovery.

SUDAN* (18 June)

Harvesting of the 2000/01 wheat crop, all irrigated and grown along the Nile River in northern Sudan, is complete. A recent FAO/GIEWS Crop Assessment Mission estimated the 2000/01 national output of wheat at 299 000 tonnes, some 40 percent above the previous year’s reduced crop but 30 percent below the average of the previous five years. The liberalisation of wheat production and the removal of Government support programmes that had encouraged high levels of production earlier in the 1990’s, prompted many farmers to drastically reduce wheat cultivation in the last two years and switch to more lucrative cash crops such as vegetables and oil seeds. In 2001, farmers were encouraged by the high level of wheat prices at planting time and satisfactory yield levels were achieved due to cooler than average temperatures, improved supply of irrigation water, adequate input supply and low incidence of pests and diseases.

The final estimates of sorghum and millet production for 2000/01 have been revised down by the Mission to 2.49 million tonnes and 483 000 tonnes respectively compared to 2.67 million tonnes and 496 000 tonnes estimated by the FAO/WFP mission late last year, mainly due to lower yields and pest damage. As a result,

Lower harvests for two consecutive years coupled with virtual depletion of stocks have led to a sharp rise in cereal prices. In March and April 2001 sorghum prices averaged SP45 000 compared to SP15 000 for the same period in 1999 and SP30 000 in 2000. Such an increase has reduced access to food for the poorer segments of the population. The purchasing power of large numbers of people, particularly pastoralists, has been seriously eroded. With coping mechanisms stretched to the limit, farmers and other vulnerable groups have migrated in search of work and food. The number of people joining WFP’s “Food for Work” programmes has increased dramatically.

Government efforts to mitigate food shortages by lifting customs duties on food imports and financing grain purchases through the recently instituted Strategic Commodity Stock Authority have, to some extent, helped stabilise cereal markets. However, with the lean season just starting and only a fraction of the appeal for international food assistance pledged so far, the situation is likely to worsen in the coming months. The population most affected by last year’s drought are mainly located in greater Darfur and Kordofan, Bahr el Ghazal, Bahr el Jebel, East Equatoria, Jonglei, Red Sea and Butana province in Gezira State. Latest estimates put the number of people in need of urgent food assistance in Sudan at some 2.97 million affected by both drought and/or civil war. Early prospects for the 2001 main season food crops, for harvest from September, are not encouraging. The below average rainfall forecast in the main rainy season (June-September) over most of the country, and the fresh waves of population displacements due to recent intensification of civil conflict in Bahr El Ghazal, are expected to severely affect agricultural production.

TANZANIA (18 June)

Normal to above normal rains in January and February in most parts of the country benefited crops of the main “long rains” season in unimodal central and southern areas. Drier conditions in March may have caused stress to crops at the critical grain filling stages in parts of central regions but have also helped in reducing excessive moisture in flooded areas in southern and western parts of the country. A recovery in this year’s output from the reduced level of 2000 is anticipated.

In bi-modal rainfall areas of the north and north-east, despite a late start, good rains since April benefited the crops of the “Masika” season. The outlook for the harvest is satisfactory. However, crops in some regions were reported to have been affected by pests, including Quelea Quelea birds and Armyworm. Pastures and livestock are reported in good condition reflecting generally abundant rains.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, the food situation remains precarious in parts due to past successive crop failures.

UGANDA (18 June)

Despite reports of army-worm invasion in some districts, prospects for the 2001 first season foodcrops, to be harvested from June, remain favourable following normal rains. The first rainy season was fully established by mid-March in most southern parts of the country providing adequate moisture for growing crops. Crops are reported in good condition in most parts of the country. In north-eastern and eastern districts, affected by successive poor harvests and insecurity, abundant rains and improved security benefited crops and pasture.

Overall food supply conditions are satisfactory. Prices of beans and maize remain stable. However, food shortages are reported in parts of Katakwi, Kotido and Moroto Districts. The displaced population in Bundibugyo, Gulu and Kitgum Districts are reported to have adequate own production and assistance through WFP feeding programs.